Category Archives: staff favorites

Two generals and a dog

Ms. Wendy encountered this ad while enjoying Fourth of July fireworks on TV, and shared it with the rest of the Children’s Services Department:

As librarians, we all enjoyed that the letter about the dog is in the Library of Congress! (Follow the link above and click on “original document” to see it.)

When we hear a good story, one of our first thoughts is usually to ask “Is there a children’s book about this?” In this case, it turns out that there is!

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George Washington and the General’s Dog by Frank Murphy
Recounts events in the life of George Washington which focus on his fondness for animals.

Little Golden Books

Little Golden Books are turning 75 this year!  Here are some memories of Little Golden Books from different library staff:

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The Little Golden Book I remember best from my childhood is The Monster at the End of this Book (featuring Grover from Sesame Street).  What I loved about this book:

  • I loved Sesame Street
  • It’s the first thing I remember that broke the fourth wall
  • Like Mo Willem’s pigeon books, it puts the child in control

-Ms. Sarah

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I remember getting The Poky Little Puppy for my birthday. We did not have many books or toys and I remember carrying this book everywhere. It is still my most treasured picture book from childhood.

-Ms. Rupa

I am not as old as the Little Golden Books, but when I was a girl I had a number of them on the bookshelf in my room, and I read them again and again.

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We always had a garden in our backyard, so I treasured Two Little Gardeners by Margaret Wise Brown and Edith Thacher Hurd because it described the gardening year that I knew in loving detail. Gertrude Elliott’s illustrations provided even more detail, adding insects and birds, frogs, turtles, and little critters for the observant child to discover. One of my favorite pages was a cutaway view of the garden showing the baby beets, carrots, and potatoes growing underground surrounded by wormholes, rocks, and the roots of other plants.

The two gardening children watched the seedlings sprout. They watched the plants bloom and the bees pollinate. They hoed the weeds and watered “the rows…Till the dusty dirt was all dark and damp and wet.” When the plants were attacked by crows and animals, they added a scarecrow and a “raba-mole” to fend them off. And, oh, the results were splendid! “Day after day something was ripe and ready to pick.” Just like my family’s garden.

At the story’s end there was a great feast, a bountiful harvest of vegetables stored in bins and tubs of sand, and rows of jewel-like canned goods on the cellar shelves. A song on the last page summed it all up.

Hi Diddle diddle, We’re full as a fiddle

      Of things that come out of the ground.

      What we plant in the spring

      We eat in the fall

      And put up in jars

      And eat it all

      When the snow come falling down.

Time to buy some seed packets and go out to hoe!

-Ms. Wendy

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Between the years 1990 and 1999 I worked at Western Publishing Company during which time it was sold and renamed Golden Books Publishing in Racine, WI.  While I was there I worked in three different departments; Order Processing, the Wal-Mart Team and Special Markets.  After Western Publishing was sold the new owners built a new facility a few miles away in Sturtevant, WI.  It was beautiful, and printing and production was just a catwalk away from the business side of the company.  One could walk over and look down through large windows onto the floor where the printing, production and packaging was going on.  I have always loved reading and the opportunity to work for a company that published one of the most well-known children’s book brand, Little Golden Books, was a great privilege. Now as a cataloger I reminisce each time a Golden Book comes across my desk.  It’s exciting to be on the other side of the process, bringing the items into the library where Patrons can come in and enjoy these wonderfully created books.  Some of my favorite books are The Poky Little Puppy, Prayers for Children, The Sailor Dog, Where Do Kisses Come From, and all the ones that are illustrated by Eloise Wilkin.

-Ms. Penny S., who gets our new books ready for the shelves

For more on the history of Little Golden Books, check out this book in the adult collection:

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Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children’s Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became an American Icon along the Way by Leonard S. Marcus

Beauty and the Beast and the Books

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Beauty and the Beast was a special Disney movie for me.  How could a future librarian not enjoy a story about a book collection bringing two unlikely characters together?

I’ve talked to a number of patrons in the past few days who are very excited about the new live action version of the movie starring Emma Watson.  Hermione is definitely a factor.  For those fans, I would like to bring a little-known DVD to your attention:

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Ballet Shoes was a BBC TV movie based on a book by the same name by Noel Streatfeild.  Three adopted sisters pursue careers in ballet, acting, and aviation.  The book was originally published in the 1930s, but remains a favorite and is still in print today.

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Beauty and the Beast also came out about the time that I discovered Robin McKinley, who writes wonderful fantasy novels with strong female characters.  Her book Beauty is an older title but still a great choice for an older kid or young teen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick pick: Cobweb Christmas

When I started working for Fountaindale in 1985, the department head had a party at her home. As I admired her tree, I noticed a spider on a web ornament and asked about it. She said it is a German tradition and told me about the book A Cobweb Christmas by Shirley Climo.
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The next Christmas, I received a spider on the web ornament as a gift. When my daughter left home, she asked for a spider on the web ornament. I could not find one, but asked the library staff to assist with my search. An elf found one and left it in my mailbox without a note about the cost or who the elf was. When my son left  home, he, too, asked for a spider on a web.
This time, the elves were with me as I found one in a Minocqua, WI Christmas shop. The spider and web now has a place on the side of the tree since my mother-in-law passed away almost 10 years ago. She requested this ornament be put at the back of the tree as she was afraid of spiders and this ornament gave her the creeps when she saw it!

Family outings: The Nutcracker

I never danced in The Nutcracker, but I love the music and I love this ballet.  My first memory if it is watching it on TV.  It was the night that Halley’s Comet passed overhead.  Unfortunately, we had a cloudy night and it was impossible to see the comet.  My parents found a performance of The Nutcracker on PBS and told me that if I was lucky, I might see the comet the next time around (in 2061).  Even without seeing the comet, I’ve had a few opportunities to see The Nutcracker live since then and enjoyed it every time.  Parents often ask us for books to introduce The Nutcracker before they take their children to a performance.  Here are a few suggestions:

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Bea in The Nutcracker by Rachel Isadora
Bea and her young classmates dress up in costumes and put on a performance of The Nutcracker.  This is one of Rachel Isadora’s picture books that showcases her background as a professional ballerina!

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Becoming a Ballerina: A Nutcracker Story by Lise Friedman; photographs by Mary Dowdle
Traces the daily experiences of a thirteen-year-old ballerina who is preparing to perform the lead role in the Boston Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker.

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Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite by Anna Harwell Celenza; illustrated by Don Tate
Tells the story of how jazz composer and musician Duke Ellington, along with Billy Strayhorn, created his jazz composition based on Tchaikovsky’s famous Nutcracker Suite ballet.   This book comes with a recording of the suite on CD.

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The Nutcracker performed by the Bolshoi Ballet on DVD
If you want to bring home a recording of the ballet, this is a beautiful version.

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The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffmann; pictures by Maurice Sendak; translated by Ralph Manheim
Maurice Sendak (who wrote and illustrated Where the Wild Things Are and who also designed sets for a performance of The Nutcracker) illustrates the story behind the ballet.

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The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers
An abridged version of the story featuring beautiful paintings of ballet dancers.

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The Nutcracker retold by Stephanie Spinner; illustrated by Peter Malone
In this retelling of the original 1816 German story, Godfather Drosselmeier gives young Marie a nutcracker for Christmas, and she finds herself in a magical realm where she saves the nutcracker and sees him change into a handsome prince.  This picture book comes with a CD of the music from the ballet.

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The Nutcracker, music by Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky
This child-friendly adaptation of the complete ballet score is given a beautiful retelling of the story by Jim Weiss.  You can find many other CDs in our collection that feature music from The Nutcracker and storytelling by Jim Weiss.

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The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition by Chris Barton; illustrated by Cathy Gendron
An illustrated account of how “The Nutcracker” ballet became an American tradition traces the efforts of three vaudeville siblings who staged their own production in the early 1900s after being introduced to the ballet by Russian immigrants.

Holiday memories: Chicago outings

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The Holidays are some of my favorite times with my family.  Relocating to the greater Chicagoland area in 1995, we have worked hard to create some very special “Chicago Holiday” activities that will be etched in our memories as my family grows and expands.   The one constant activity is going downtown Chicago on Christmas Eve to look at the Marshall Field’s Windows, Daley Plaza Christkindlmarket, and then we pop over to the John Hancock Building to see the trains set up below street level.  The outing is not complete without the purchase of a box of Frango Mints and stopping to listen to one of the many street musicians.  On the years when the temperatures were extreme, we’d defer to the Field Museum, or Museum of Science and Industry as shelter from the cold.  Over the years we have added the “Welcome Yule,” Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas celebration and the Lincoln Park light display.  In the beginning it was just our small family of five, but over the years we have had a few additions and look forward to many more.

Please drop by the library and share with me one of your special Holiday outings.  From my family to yours, we wish you a very happy, healthy and safe holiday season.

Holiday Memories: Family Outings

Do your children love LEGOS? How about trains? If you answered yes, you won’t want to miss the LEGO Train Show at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.

The Northern Illinois LEGO Train Club sets up their magnificent train layouts annually in the Visitor Center.

My family has attended the show several times. There is so much to see! Lots of stories play out along the tracks. One vignette I remember was a crash between a Dunkin Donuts truck and a Krispy Kreme truck just outside a coffee shop. The street was full of donuts and police officers!

Lego trains on display at Cantigny

Star Wars, Sesame Street, Thomas the Tank Engine, and Harry Potter have all been showcased. Chicago landmark buildings, a concert in a park, gas stations, Ferris wheel, fire trucks and construction cranes may take the stage. Every year is different. Dads with children on their shoulders search out the stories and spy out superheroes in action. And, of course, the trains tie everything together to the enjoyment of all. Unbeknownst to most adults, below the main train layout, there are shadow boxes at a young child’s height – a secret world of delight for them alone!

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the show. It is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday, December 10 and 11, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. The show itself is free. Entrance to Cantigny is $5 per car for parking.

Cantigny Park participates in the Museum Pass program. Bring your Fountaindale card to the Information Desk in the lobby and ask if there are any passes for Cantigny. A pass is good for a week and saves a family money.

To learn more about the participating museums go to http://www.museumadventure.org/. School vacation is a great time to go out and explore.